Hi guys. Today I want to give you some encouragement as we are navigating this new normal together, but separately. This is an emotional and stressful time, but I hope I can help give a little positivity and help turn this upside down world back around again (or at least sideways :). Let’s call these, Denisa’s helpful tips.
Tip No. 1: It is OKAY to feel worried.
If you’re like me – and I bet you are – this corona virus pandemic has got you on edge. And if you’re like me, you feel a little guilty about that. If our hope is in God, then how can we feel afraid at a time like this? Shouldn’t we be standing tall and unafraid? Well yes, sure, but also no. We are human. We feel fear. We feel worry. It’s part of life. Want proof? When David was fleeing Saul, hiding in a cave, feeling at his lowest, he wrote this:
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:1-2)
How’s that for worry?! When I realize that the Bible has examples of people feeling even more worried than I do now, I put less pressure on myself to “just stop worrying.” And frankly, if you’re reading this then you have a child in your life that you love and care for. And a big part of raising a child is worry – sometimes reflexively.
What’s that? You want a personal anecdote? Okay! Many of you know that my husband travels abroad for work for extended periods of time. Yesterday he found out someone he had worked with on his last trip abroad is recovering from COVID-19. Turns out my husband hasn’t seen his colleague in a month, and they’ve traced the infection to a meeting that occurred way after my husband had returned to Texas. But I’ll admit my initial feeling when I heard the news was extreme worry. Our daughter has asthma, and therefore is part of the vulnerable population. But even though worry is part of being a parent, I want to challenge us all to make a conscious effort to take one day at a time and to focus on tackling the things that are right in front of us.
I’m sure you’ve heard Reinhold Neibhur’s famous prayer before:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
We cannot change the fact that corona virus is in our community. We cannot change the fact that Dallas has a shelter in place rule and that Dallas schools have sent our kids home. We cannot change the fact that these are worrying facts. And it’s okay to be worried about this! Breathe and say that to yourself. Give yourself permission to be worried. But while giving yourself permission, realize that what you can change is how you focus your worry. First and foremost, lean on God. I’m not asking for superhuman bravery. This is different. This is recognizing your worry and admitting it to God. Let him help you. In Psalm 23, David says “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” God’s rules and the instruments of his leadership give us hope and a path to walk through the valley we now find ourselves in. You know what doesn’t give us hope? Spending the whole day watching the news and googling around. I do it too. I’m not judging. But let’s not kid ourselves about the mental state that puts us in.
If you need any more motivation, then do it for your kids. Have the courage to change how you react to the worry you naturally feel. Our children can read us like a book. We all know this is true, but we forget how true it is. Another anecdote? Sure thing! Last week we had a family meeting, where we talked about everything that is happening. I was surprised how much our kids already knew about corona virus from school. My husband and I let our kids ask any and all questions and we promised to give them a straight answer (appropriate for their ages). And we did. It was scary being open with the kids about things that scare me. But they appreciated it and we all left feeling better. I’ll say it one more time: It’s okay to feel worried. But please, please, please don’t let worry and fear control your life.
You know, I started out quoting David’s extreme worry in verses 1 and 2 of Psalm 13. But it would be wrong to only give you the intro. Because the Psalm ends like this:
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Be worried. Feel worried. It’s okay, these are worrying times. But give that worry to God. Pray silently. Whisper it. Cry it. Shout it! Do whatever you need to do, but give it over to God. Trust in his love. Sing his praise. We are worried. But he is God and he is good.
Now I’m going to ask you to do two things. First, please put some of your energy toward focusing on that sweet day when we all going to see each other again at Munger. What a raucous day it’s going to be. What a celebration! In the meantime, you got it friends, we’re taking it one day at a time.
Secondly, think about what you are thankful for today and each day of this quarantine. In fact, this is an activity that I want you to do with your kids. You can turn this into a homeschool assignment, or an art project, or just a conversation over a meal. But try every day to have everyone in your family think about one thing they are thankful for. I know you’ve heard of this exercise a hundred times, but I want you to actually do it for the next few weeks. It will help you reset your mental state, and you may be surprised what comes out of your kids mouths!
So that’s it for Denisa’s Tip Number 1. As you may assume, there are more tips to come but you’re probably tired of hearing from me so I’ll give you a couple days before I impart more wisdom 🙂
P.S. Please remember if you have a need or would like to be involved in meeting needs of others, sign up for Munger Dash. And if there is anything specific I or our staff can be praying for please email me or utilize our online prayer request.